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Ghana2 April 2002

Government censors news about inter-clan violence in the north of the country

In a letter sent to the Minister of Information, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF), called for the immediate suspension of the requirement that media submit their stories about inter-clan violence for approval by government censors. "To our knowledge, no media in Ghana have incited any murders," said Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF. "Nothing can justify the implementation of government censorship. It is important that the citizens of Ghana have access to more than just official information." RSF also called for the repeal of the 1994 Emergency Powers Act, which goes against the country’s constitution.

According to information obtained by RSF, on 31 March 2002, the government decided that all information concerning the inter-clan clashes among the Dagomba ethnic group (north of the country) must be submitted to the Ministry of Information for censorship. The minister justified this measure by invoking the 1994 Emergency Powers Act, which allows the government to "forbid all information coming from, or concerning, an area in a state of emergency." He said that some media have been making "highly inflammatory" reports, some of which were "carefully planned". On 25 March 2002, violence broke out between two Andani and Abudu clans of the Dagomba ethnic group. On 27 March, the king of the Dagomba, Yakubu Andani II, and some forty other people, were killed in Yendi (north of the country).

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